Don’t let P40-B worth of vaccines go to waste– Concepcion

Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion III has urged Filipinos to get their booster shots and not waste P40 billion that the government spent to buy most of the 80 million Covid-19 vaccine supplies, 27 million of which are expiring in June-July.

At the Laging Handa Public Briefing, Concepcion said he was told the cost of the vaccines amounted to P40 billion, but some of that were donations by COVAX with 30 million doses and the private sector also donated some vaccines worth P2.5 billion.

“We are trying to save these vaccines from getting expired and save the economy,” he stressed. If there are no takers of those vaccines, Concepcion warned “billions of pesos will be lost.” Of the 80 million vaccines in the country, 27 million are expiring in June-July and 57 million more in storage..

He warned that if Filipinos continue to delay getting their third dose or booster shots, 27 million doses are expiring in June-July already. By that time that Filipinos have decided to get their boosters, there would be fewer doses left.

He added that the ongoing war in Ukraine, prices of commodities are going up. And if the Alert Level would be raised again to Level 3-4 this means more establishments, particularly the micro small and medium enterprises, will close shops again. “How can the government pay the trillions of pesos we borrowed, so we should realize the whole implication,” he pointed out.

So far, the booster rate in the country is only at 13.7 percent while the rate of the first two primary doses is higher at 74 percent. Covid cases though are still low despite the huge political campaign rallies and the opening of the economy.

But Concepcion also agreed with the predictions of the World Health Organization and the Department of Health and other medical advisers of the potential surge of 300,000 cases to 500,000 cases after the elections as the wall of immunity are starting to wane.

Covid-19 vaccinations have also been sidelined since the start of the local election campaigns. Concepcion expressed hope that local government units (LGUs) will go back to prioritizing Covid vaccination drive after the election.

With new Covid variants being discovered and surges happening in Europe, Concepcion said the Philippines cannot afford to go back to “where we come from. Filipinos cannot afford to be complacent.” It will be a waste “to lose our momentum of economic recovery.”

He was also told by the medical advisers that they are now reviewing the vaccines for the first booster of 5-11 year olds where most of the preferred vaccines are Sinovac. He also said that the 12-17 year olds must also get their boosters because face to face classes are going to start.

While most companies have high booster rate, he worried about the general public, especially the D market where booster take up is low.

On his recommendation to redefine “fully vaccinated” to include a third dose, he suggested that businesses should be given 60 days from the day they agreed to a third dose to comply, otherwise, the vaccination cards should be updated and those with no third dose cannot be allowed entry establishments.

“We are not saying that it should be imposed right away. That’s why we are proposing that it must be adopted in 60 or even up to 90 days to allow areas to catch up and ramp up their booster vaccinations,” Concepcion emphasized.

“If we don't, it will result not only to higher alert levels, but lockdowns will happen again. We can't afford to have that because it will have an impact to our economy,” he added.

As of last tally, some 12,477,480 Filipinos or 13.86 percent have already received booster shots while fully vaccinated individuals have reached 66,652,616 or 74.05 percent.

Concepcion was also concerned that the next administration may be hesitant to purchase vaccines since there are no takers.